“We are at war with our beloved children, and we are winning,” declared Boston University economics professor Laurence Kotlikoff at the 44th annual St. Gallen Symposium last week in Switzerland. I attended this Davos-esque convention of 600 global leaders with 200 next-generation leaders, which focused on the “clash of generations” and the state of the world being left to the Millennials.
The verdict: It’s tough being young these days, at least in the United States, where the Pew Research Center notes that “half a century ago, the old were by far the poorest age group in America. Today it is the young.”
Kotlikoff and others confessed a number of of inter-generational sins they’d bequeathed to my generation, from unsustainable pension programs to climate change to child poverty. Then he threw in one that seemed to me an odd item for which to seek absolution: technological innovation.
In listing the crimes being committed in the war on the young, Kotlikoff noted, “It’s being fought every year when we build smarter and smarter machines that eliminate more and more jobs for our kids.” Lady Barbara Judge, chair of the U.K.’s Pension Protection Fund, struck a similar chord in her remarks: “Every time I go to the airport, some other person is removed of their job. Are we technologically putting young people out of jobs and older people out of jobs, and is all change progress?”
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